Claus Tittiger

Claus Tittiger

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs


We use functional genomics, molecular biology, and biochemical techniques to understand bark beetles and their interactions with host trees.  We are concentrating on two areas: the enzymes involved in isoprenoid pheromone biosynthetic pathways and the ability of the beetle to metabolize toxic resin components.

Pine bark beetles, while physically very small, can kill vast areas of coniferous forest during outbreak conditions. The increased forest fire risk and loss of timber are significant economic costs associated with bark beetle activity. Research in my lab focuses on understanding various aspects of the bark beetles’ biochemistry in order to better develop targeted control strategies. Our long term goal is to specifically regulate bark beetle populations, at least in an urban setting, without harming non-target organisms. There are two broad subject areas under study:

Pheromone Biosynthesis:Bark beetle outbreaks are mediated by aggregation pheromones, many of which are monoterpenes.  Since de novo monoterpene synthesis in the Metazoa is rare, the pheromone biosynthetic pathway is an attractive target for eventual control strategies.  Monoterpenoid pheromone components are synthesized in the midgut via the mevalonate (isoprenoid) pathway, with carbon likely being shunted away from the mevalonate pathway and into the pheromone pathway at geranyl diphosphate.

Phloem Detoxification:   Pine trees are full of toxic resin, which discourages animals from eating them.  The resin contains mostly monoterpenoid solvents  --turpentine and Pine-Sol are produced from pine trees-- and considering that drinking a medium-sized glass of turpentine is enough to kill most humans (not recommended, don’t try it!), it is remarkable that bark beetles can thrive in their environment.  Since different beetle species are more or less restricted to their host tree species, their detoxification processes are probably “tuned” to their host tree.  We are trying to understand the biochemical mechanisms the beetles use to survive constant monoterpene ingestion


B.Sc. Biochemistry, 1987 University of Ottawa
Ph.D. Biology, 1994 Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada


Publications are listed below.

Book Chapter(s)

Advances in Insect Physiology: Pheromone production in bark beetles.


In C Tittiger and GJ Blomquist (Ed.), Advances in Insect Physiology (vol. 50, pp. 235-263). Advances in Insect Physiology/Elsevier.

Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G.

Pine Bark Beetles


In Tittiger, C and Blomquist, GJ (Ed.), (pp. 304). Advances in Insect Physiology

Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G.


Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) CYP4Gs convert long and short chain alcohols and aldehydes to hydrocarbons.


Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 102, 11-20

MacLean, M., Gurnea, T., Nadeau, J., Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G. J.

Comparative transcriptomics of mountain pine beetle pheromone-biosynthetic tissues and functional analysis of CYP6DE3.


BMC Genomics, 18, 311.

Nadeau, J., Petereit, J., Tillett, R.J., Jung, K., Footoohi, M., MacLean, M., Young, S., Blomquist, G., Tittiger, C

Drosphila Spidey/Kar regulates oenocyte growth via P13-kinase signaling.


PLOS GENETICS, 12(8), e1006154

Cinnamon, E., Makki, R., Sawala, A., Wickenberg, L., Huestis, D., Blomquist, G., Tittiger, C., Paroush, Z., Gould, A.

Frontalin pheromone biosynthesis in the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, role of isoprenyldiphosphate synthases.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 18838-18843.

Keeling, C. K., Chiu, C. C., Aw, T., Li, M., Tittiger, C., Weng, H., Blomquist, G., Bohlman, J.

An insect-specific P450 oxidative decarnonylase for cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 109(37), 14853-14863.

Qiu, Y., Tittiger, C., Wicker-Thomas, C., LeGoff, G., Young, S., Wajnberg, E., Fricaux, T., Taquet, N., Blomquist, G. J., Feyereisen, R.

Ipsdienol dehydrogenase (IDOLDH): a novel oxidoreductase important for Ips pini pheromone production.


Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2012 Feb;42(2):81-90.

Figueroa-Teran R, Welch WH, Blomquist GJ, Tittiger C.

Pheromone production in bark beetles.


Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 40, 699-712.

Blomquist, G., Figueroa-Teran, R., Aw, M., Song, M., Gorzalski, A., Abbott, N. L., Chang, E., Tittiger, C.

Isolation and characterization of farnesyl diphosphate synthase from the cotton boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis.


Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, 71(2), 88-104.

Taban, H., Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G., Welch, W. H.

Two regulatory mechanisms of monoterpenoid pheromone production in Ips spp. of bark beetles.


J. Chemical Ecology, 35, 689-697.

Bearfield, J. C., Henry, A. G., Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G., Ginzel, M. D.

<div>Bark beetles use aggregation pheromones to coordinate host colonization and mating.&nbsp;These monoterpenoid chemical signals are produced de novo in midgut cells via the mevalonate pathway, and...

Unique animal prenyltransferase with monoterpene synthase activity.


Naturwissenschaften, 96, 731-735.

Gilg, A. B., Tittiger, C., Blomquist, G.

Some insights into the remarkable metabolism of the bark beetle midgut


Recent Adv. Phytochem. 39, 57-78

C. Tittiger, C. I. Keeling and G. J. Blomquist


Cytochromes P450 associated with insecticide resistance catalyse cuticular hydrocarbon production in Anopheles gambiae.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 113(33), 9268-9273.

Balibanidou, V., Kambouraki, A., MacLean, M., Blomquist, G. J., Tittiger, C., Juarez, M., Mijailovsky, S., Chalepakis, G., Anthousi, A., Hemmingway, J., Antoine, S., Lynd, A., Lycett, G., Vontas, J.